At Lincoln Loop, we have three primary means of communication.
Our chat room serves primarily as our virtual water-cooler. It's where we joke around, ask each other about our families, and ask each other quick questions about our projects. The discussions are ephemeral and its ok for anybody to sign-out when they want to shut out distractions.
Software: Skype/Google Hangout/Mumble
Sometimes you need to talk to somebody 1-on-1 or hash out a problem with a small team. It's common to see, "Let's jump on Skype and figure this out" in our chat room. Voice/Video (and often screensharing) allows us to pair program particularly difficult problems as well.
Software: Ginger (of course)
Unlike the other tools, which require immediate presence, an asynchronous discussion allows people to participate at anytime. There's no parallel to this in the office world. Think of it like a permanent all-hands meeting without the distractions or loss in productivity. The benefits are numerous:
It allows flexible schedules. Nobody at Lincoln Loop has to miss a child's soccer game or lunch with their spouse because of an "important" meeting. The effect this has on morale and happiness is immeasurable.
It respects the zone. A worker that is "in the zone" (aka the flow) is hyper-efficient. As a company or manager, your goal should be to interrupt the flow as little as possible. Once interrupted, it can take hours (or even days) to get back to the same level of efficiency. Scheduling a meeting or insisting on a discussion in the middle of the zone can result in a massive loss of productivity.
It provides time for thought and reflection. Not everybody thinks well on the spot. Many people say they have their best ideas in the shower. Asynchronous discussion gives people time to think and provide their best ideas, not just their first ones.
Any discussion that happens in our other tools and becomes remotely important gets escalated to Ginger. It's ideal for brainstorming, broadcast messages, planning, and new feature discussions.
We built Ginger to be the best asynchronous discussion tool available. A good asynchronous discussion tool is critical for our business. Unfortunately, for many companies, it's a neglected or even non-existent tool. If you're trying to hold your important discussions in traditional company-wide meetings, email, Basecamp (see our comparison), or a social networking tool, consider giving Ginger a try.
We're happy to announce that Ginger now has full email integration. This may sound a bit contradictory for a product that aims to replace email as a primary team communication tool, but we think it's important for a couple reasons.
Many software teams use the Stand-up Meeting (or some variation of it) as part of the team's communication process.
The benefits are obvious. You encourage (force?) introverted engineers to communicate, surface opportunities for cooperation, and bring project managers up-to-speed;
all within a small window ...
At Lincoln Loop, we're big believers in Getting Real. The second chapter discusses the importance of picking a fight and Having an Enemy. Perhaps surprisingly, one of our early enemies was in fact, Basecamp, 37signals' flagship product. While it may be a great project management tool, we found it ...
Does your company have that one tool that everyone uses to stay connected? A place that's fun and low friction? A place that doesn't ever pull you out of the zone, but that is easy to catch up on during break time?
We decided the Lincoln Loop blog wasn't the best place for us to keep everyone up-to-date on Ginger and talk a little more about what it has to offer. For historical purposes, you can still find the following posts over there: